Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Dental Bill Shock

I think I managed to recover from the shock of bill for the two caps on my teeth, plus fillings, around 3 AM when I awakened and lie there for a while thinking about things.
I do a lot of art forms. The one I sell is making jewelry.
“Oh, I can string a bunch of beads together and make a necklace.” Yes, my cat can probably do that, too but I guarantee, you won't buy the end result. The reason people pause when looking at my work is mostly the colors. I just happened into the proper genetic combination to be able to see more color than you can and because of that, all my blues and browns go together while you are still wondering why yours clash. Your mind can't see what mine can. Your eyes do but your brain can't sort the colors. Your eyes keep sending the information and not getting an answer, so you are repelled by what you put together. The price for that talent is never letting your father out the door until you made certain he didn't look like a clown because he was color blind. My mother carried the gene for color which her uncles had exploited by becoming jewelers. They were excellent at grading gemstones and one of the criteria is color. Wham, of all the kids, I got the genes and I have hundreds of cousins.
That said, I spent 2 hours restringing the fringe on a piece...just seven strands and I used 7 eye pins. So what took so long? Well, it wasn't matching the colors and beads. It was making the wires to hold the glass briolette beads and attaching them with tiny jump rings so they would dangle and sparkle. You see, glass breaks and when it is the very thin top of a tear drop bead with a tiny hole through it, it really breaks. You can't put a jump ring in it because they are too thin. You have to use 28 gauge wire which must be twisted, double if you want any strength, and that will cause it to break if you do it too tight. First twist to create a loop and second twist over that one to strengthen the loop's connection to equal that of the jump ring and one twist too many, snap goes the wire and you cut the whole thing off and start over. But that isn't as time consuming as working with a jump ring so tiny you can barely hold it with tools to connect the eye pin to the briolette. Then using a slightly larger jump ring you attach the other end to the focal piece and they sparkle and fluidly dangle. The last part is all you see.
Which brings me to mixed media often considered the step child of all the arts. Did you ever consider that to do mixed media you have to master each media you are mixing into the piece? I didn't think so.
And now I move to my friends who are doll makers. Thirty years ago I happened into a ceramics studio looking for a way to make unique pots for my African Violets while relaxing from a day of dealing with certified crazy people and stayed. It turns out I love the smell of fresh clay and I am good at ceramics. Little did I dream I was also good at art as that was something strongly discouraged in my family. There was no money in it. Sanding the seams and painting those pieces was labor, both physical and mental, intensive and for an hour, I would not have to think about therapies. Then one day the owner approached me to do some work on several pieces and in return, she would give me supplies to keep. You never use all the glaze on a single piece and glaze is expensive. I also got my hour free, because you pay by the hour to use a studio. YES!!! Suddenly, I moved into a paid artist from amateur and joined the people at the big people table. We were all working on doll pieces for a doll artist. My specialty was being able to sand pieces so they would fit together seamlessly when fired. Each piece shrinks differently in the kiln based on thickness so you really have to have a feel for that clay to do that job. Soon I was also doing the shading on the limbs because of my ability to see color. Another woman did nothing but draw eyes. One lady specialized in hands and fingernails. Somewhere, someone had sculpted the entire doll which was made into mold. And somewhere in a gallery sits the combination of our work, nicely put together with someone else's name on it. A doll sold for at least $500.00 back then so that person could afford each of us to make the pieces and they put the hair and clothes on and assembled the doll.
My friends on Facebook, do all of that. They buy the blank fired pieces, paint them using various mediums, put them together and even make the clothes and shoes for them. You want to buy that doll for under $50.00. I used to get that much money in supplies to sand and paint the limbs. It is 30 years later!
Those cheap painted pieces in the dollar stores are just that. The paint will come off.. You have an assembly line of people painting one doll because few people can do everything. One does eyes, one brows, one lips, and so on down the line until the piece is finished. To find someone who can do the whole piece is unusual and don't forget, those people make pennies an hour.
You aren't paying enough for the art you buy off Etsy, Ebay and Amazon or someone's table in a craft show.
Craft show! Somehow that implies the person isn't a REAL artist. I'd like to see a few real artists make some of the items in craft shows!
Two hours on seven pieces of a fringe not counting choosing the beads and the first mistake and I haven't even strung the necklace or for that matter worked out how to incorporate the large seed beads with the mineral and glass beads. I am still working on how to put the cabs into the setting because the setting is too big for 8x6 and too small for 8x10 so something has to fill in the space or it will (a) fall off the first time the piece is knocked or (b) look like a cab swimming in a setting that is too big. I will have to make something to fill in the you get it...make. I will have to invent something the perfect size to fill in the space.
I probably have more kinds of beads than a bead store. I have wire in every thickness and most colors. I have tools. I have years invested in watching videos and trial and error. I am not producing a $4.95 necklace. I have to get that through MY head. Once I do the shock of my dental bill will be lessened.
My dentist has to drill the cavity out of the tooth without breaking the tooth and then REBUILD the tooth with the filling material. The lab has to take the two caps that were modeled off the real teeth and rebuild them to cover the area the dentist just rebuilt while making them fit together like two mirror image twins and match the color to the rest of my teeth. Yes, that is worth $3,800.00. I am sure the equipment to do those things is worth more than $50,000.00.

It's not just the making of the piece, it is the creation and everything needed to create it. Each time a bead changes size, if just for one bead, a single strand has to be bought and the left overs stored. Even if it is malachite, the colors can vary so badly they don't go together. All of that is going to cost money and all of that is in the price of making your piece. Every single different bead requires a jewelry maker buy an entire strand of beads. Think about that for a while. Want a black and white necklace that varies in graduation? Black and white bead strands divided into 4 mm, 6 mm and 8mm. That is 6 strands od beads. You'll need a 10-12 mm for focus plus the wire, crimp beads, crimp bead covers, jump rings and fastener. You will need a pair of jeweler's pliers, needle nose pliers, crimp tool, crimp cover tool and cutters. You will need a necklace board to lay the design out on and to measure it. Still think you can make that necklace because I haven't got into months of practice to perfect your technique. I know some people who are still mastering crimping years later. Good luck with that $5.00 necklace because you spent that on the first string of beads.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Other Side of Rich

After the dentist, we wandered into the poor side of town that the tRump motorcade never passes through. Although a main drag in Palm Beach, its lanes are narrow and harrowing for an old lady driving a commercial van. No SUV's grace these tiny parking lots. If I didn't have my handicap sticker I couldn't have parked the van. Regular sized trucks and compacts that have seen better days snuggle into the tiny parking spaces designed to get the maximum number of little stores into a strip mall bursting at the seams.
We often walk the other strip malls getting between stores. No one ever makes eye contact, smiles or says a word.
What a difference a few dollars makes! Even if talking on the phone, the people took time to smile at us. I even got a compliment on my necklace from a young man who had been removed from the bar for obviously a few too many. He had joined the line of leaning men awaiting the time they could return to the dark cave where no one cares who you are. It was a rainbow of skin tones, all happily getting along and commiserating. No one cares what you are because you are human, just like them. Cheap food, cheap booze and laundromats are the hallmarks of this area hidden in the industrial section of a wealthy county. A Spanish grocery thrives in an area where not a word of Spanish was heard. Harbor Freight caters to tired men covered in honest grease with a very different kind of stock. On my side of the county, which I occupy not due to money but tenacity, the reviews for Harbor Freight are scathing but in this little slice of heaven, they are glowing for price and quality. Things look different when it takes a few weeks to save up to buy them as opposed to swiping an infinite credit card. People actually use turn signals and let people out onto the road over there. Everyone is tired and no one is going anywhere fast. I know the feeling of going home to the place you can afford littered with other people's cast offs in an imitation of decor knowing dinner will be greasy starch not known for its flavor but its ability to fill the stomach.
I think I like that side of town much more than the one I exist within. People smile. People talk to strangers. People even use turn signals!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Law Trap

When I was a teen, it was mandatory sentencing for a crime. It will make them stop and think before they do this. Nope, the crime rate is higher than it was when I was a kid. The only change is we have a bunch of people, mostly minorities in prison for offenses, like possession of marijuana, that are now legal, for years. Just keep one thing in mind, it costs a state about 300.00 a day to jail someone. YOU are the STATE. You are the one paying the 300.00 a day with your taxes that could be making a better school for your kids, fixing roads, putting more buses on the routes, planting more tree, expanding animal control, providing more arts and sports programs in school, building more free parks and the list goes on.
Extreme mandatory sentences did nothing but provide an easy income for people who don't need it and punish people who don't need punishing. So why isn't it repealed? It is easier to pass a law than get rid of it and that is why you have laws about where to graze your cattle in places that haven't seen a cow in a hundred years.
A law protecting children on the internet seemed like a good idea 3 years ago. Unfortunately, I now see my artist friends leaving the internet for fear of enormous fines they can't possibly pay if their work is reported. Yes, the government, our friend?, made it super easy to prosecute someone for these offenses. They made it so easy, anyone putting up a video can face a $30.000.00 fine in less than one millisecond even if their intended audience isn't under 18 and their subject matter really isn't adult, like DYI. The Government made it real easy to automate the process and in the process created a black and white rule with no shades of gray and no need for a human to review anything before you have pay. The justice machines are real.
The latest great law is on animal cruelty. It is heralded by the very people it is going to punish. Once again the original minimum sentence comes into play. Is there a week that small rescues do not reach the point due to their inability to say no to a suffering animal not violate these laws? PETA uses them all the time to close down small rescues over the condition of ONE out of 200 animals and prosecute the owners. Is there anyone naive enough to think the larger rescues won't use this law to get rid of their competition for donations, the smaller ones? Is there anyone stupid enough to think the government won't use this law to prosecute people that disagree with them politically? Come on folks, the small man gleefully signed this bill and the next day signed one legalizing using cyanide traps to kill animals and the next day another one allowing hunters to kill hibernating mother bears and cubs. This is the same man who populated the agencies charged with saving endangered animals with trophy hunters and YOU think he is protecting animals???? No, he is protecting money and there is big money in animal rescues. The animals see little help from the money you give to the large rescues but the small rescues will love you forever for a bag of cat food and the cats will get that food.
How about your beloved pet, sitting on your lap? Do you know if it has worms? Does it have ear mites well hidden in its ears? Is there a lone flea wandering the plains of its back waiting for the flea killer to kick in? Is your house pet proofed? Do you even know what that is? Well, you are guilty of animal cruelty, get a prison sentence and join the real sickos on a nationally available list. Guess what list you can't access due to a law signed early last month? That would be the list of convicted puppy mill owners and the locations of puppy mills. Guess who can sail through customs with endangered animal parts from their hunts in other countries? That would be the sons of the man who signed all these laws and a ton of others who just figured out a canned hunt is cheaper than the price they can get for a rhino horn or elephant tusk, all of which can now come into the country perfectly legally. In other words, they have now legalized harvesting endangered animals for parts under the guise of canned hunts. The animals don't even stand a chance, starved, abused and drugged so they can't escape their killers, I mean trophy hunters.
The small rescues don't stand a chance either as they lovingly tend animals others have thrown away, scrounge for medications and food and take that over their limit animal into their own bed to hold and reassure as it passes on that it is loved by someone. For that, they may join the person who had less than an ounce of pot on them at $300.00 a day that you are paying every time you buy gas, bread, beer, milk and a myriad of products you didn't even know had a tax built into their prices and of course the sales and property tax bills.
Someone published a statement yesterday that made sense. There is no Deep State. There is a bunch of bureaucrats getting kickbacks from Corporate America to take everyone's money and put it into the pockets of the already rich and overflowing. They are doing this because Corporate America convinced you the same bureaucrats were living the good life with their salaries and pensions just because they are union like many other professions. So now Corporate America pays the bureaucrats to screw you and bust the unions and guess what?? YOU ARE STILL PAYING THE SAME BILL.
Let me make this simple. You now pay in higher prices and jail sentences what you used to pay the bureaucrats in salary and benefits except Corporate America now takes a cut off the top so you are really paying more than before and no one is benefiting but a few rich people who have more money than they and their unborn great x10 grandkids could spend in their combined lifetimes if they starting buying things 24/7 right now. Result: YOU ARE SCREWED. The bureaucrats are screwed. The rich get richer.

Rule: Every time you think the people in charge are helping you screw your favorite group of people to hate, you get screwed right along with that group and the people in charge make a profit and give most of it to the rich people in charge of them. So you had better embrace the immigrant, they probably know where to buy cheap lubricant.